Object Record

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Object Name Cable, Telegraph
Subject Communications
Communications Media
Category 10: Unclassifiable Artifacts
Sub-category Need to Classify
Accession Number 1972.082.001
Donor Mrs. Walter Miller
Description A piece of the original Telegraph Cable laid in 1866, mounted in brown oval frame.
Provenance This artefact is a piece of copper telegraph cable, originally part of the 3500 kilometer long telegraph cable that was laid between Ireland and Newfoundland in 1886. Installation of this cable took several attempts but it eventually succeeded in enabling convenient communication between Europe and North America, revolutionizing communication between the two continents. It was donated to the Mission Museum in 1972 by Mrs. Walter Miller, whose great-grandfather was an engineer.
Copper telegraph cables laid in 1866 could transmit roughly six to eight words a minute. Sending a message was not cheap; originally it would cost around $5 per word to transmit, which is roughly the equivalent of $70 a word in 2016. This particular piece comes from the cable laying ship The Great Eastern, a huge iron ship that had sail, paddle and also screw propulsion power. The Great Eastern was the only ship of its time large enough to carry the entire length of cable by itself.